Smart-Step Personal Change Process

“Be the Change You Want To Be.”  Gandi

On this post, I would like to talk about personal change and master coaching. We all have seen the intensity of athletic coaches. Sense it is basketball season you probably have observed how coaches do coaching in real time. They pull a player out of the game and talk to them about what happened on the floor just a few seconds ago. For example, the other night I watch a coach pull a player out of the game because the man he was guarding gave him a head and then a ball fake and was by him for an easy layup.  The coach provided immediate feedback on what the player did wrong and tips on how to play better defense by moving his feet, not standing flat-footed and reaching with his arms to try an stop the opponent. This brief coaching session last less than thirty seconds and provide an example of excellent coaching. Let’s look at the steps–the player was provided immediate feedback,  wrong behavior was identified, coach quickly demonstrate desired behavior and reinforcement was given with a pat on the fanny. By the way this was all communicated in a calm and positive manner.  The coach saw this teachable moment and took advantage of it.

Corporate managers and leaders have the same daily opportunities to coach but generally wait to provide feedback for the annual performance review or just ignore the unwanted behavior. In doing this how can we expect our people to change? Why is this so?  Because the managers do not have a model or training on how to do real time coaching, are afraid to confront others because it might cause an uproar or just see this type of coaching as “soft stuff” and not as important as getting the job done. This type of “sink or swim” thinking by corporate leaders needs to be challenged. We can not expect our team members to perform at higher levels if we don’t pay attention to their development needs and use real time coaching techniques.   Here is a proven process that we all can use at work or home. First, let’s say change is tough. We can not just super- impose new behaviors on top of old habits and attitudes. For changte to work and remain permanent a person’s beliefs, values and attitudes need to be understood and then modified. This change comes from inside-out where habits and patterns of behavior in many instances have become harden and rewared for many years. The following model for change is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)  and Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) techniques which have proven very effective in helping individuals discover and choose more productive ways to live their lives.


1. Clearly, identify the change desired. Identify present state and future desired state. Answer the question– What is the goal for Change?

2. Hone-in on and examine awareness and motivations for change. Test to see if the person is willing to spent time, attention and thought on this change project? Answer the question–Does the person want to change this behavior? 

3. Attend to and examine the patterns and unresolved conflicts supporting the present behavior and attitude. What are the payoffs for present attitude and behavior?

4. Name the change desired as if it has already taken place. This is the  the goal for change and needs to be reinforced with positive visual and mental “self-talk”. What does the desired change look like?

5. Generate new powerful rewards and support  to override old attitudes and habits. Celebrate successes.  What new rewards and support are needed for change to work? 

6. Execute new attitude and behaviors in the real world. After mentally rehearsing new behavior to match target goals try new behavior in real life situations that provide immediate feedback and coaching. Be open to resistance and need to loop back to step one for ongoing improvement and permanent changes. How did the person perform-what worked, what was the same and what needs to be improved?

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